Quick update: People have been asking if I am going to finish The Church & Homosexuality series I started this fall. The answer is yes! I have just been a little slack lately in a very busy season, planting a new church, etc. Sorry for the delay and will pick back up with that very soon!
In case you hadn’t noticed, the season is in full swing.
“It’s the most wonderful time…of the year.” Or so the radio tells us.
I’m not an over-the-top Christmas junkie, but I have to say this season has been my favorite, likely of my lifetime. Mainly because my daughter Sully is almost 2 and old enough to enjoy ALL THINGS CHRISTMAS. Last year she just laid there and drooled. This year she likes the music, she adores our Christmas tree (every time we plug the lights in she says “Wow!”). She is fascinated by the gifts wrapped under the tree–and by fascinated I mean she tries her best to tear them apart.
Some houses in our neighborhood are a little nuts when it comes to lights and decorations, so every time we pull in when it’s dark she starts yelling “Wights! Wights! I go see um, go see um.” We take regular walks over to explore the veritable wonderland of Christmas decorations in one yard, and she is not pleased when we make her leave.
(Told you some houses were a little nuts. That dinosaur moves up and down and is eating Santa Claus. There are inflatables on the roof behind the tree. I’m tired just thinking about all the energy it took to make this happen.)
Watching that little human splinter with joy at all of these new, wonderful things has been quite a delight. “You want to go roam around like a redneck in our neighbor’s yard and play with the decorations like they’re toys? Of course we can do that. It’s Christmas, after all.” She gets so giddy in my arms that she tries to squirt up and out like a fish.
Needless to say, when I hear that song come on this year, I’m like “Yes. Yes it is the most wonderful time of the year. Thank you Andy Williams.” I feel immeasurably blessed, like the winner of some cosmic lottery I have no business winning. We feel the hopeful expectancy of another baby girl kicking inside of Kristi’s stomach, and Sully says “Baby sister kicking!” From where we are in our adoption process with China, it seems likely that our one-day child is already alive now, and we wonder what they are like and where they are and dream of future Christmases with our growing family (Lord willing).
It’s a fun season, a blessed season. The most wonderful time of this year of new adventures and a lot of firsts.
But the reality is, it’s not the most wonderful time of the year for everyone.
Many are facing the holiday mirth with a fake smile, gritting their teeth and trying to make it through.
Many are standing toe to toe with a deep, unrelenting sadness, a stretch of loneliness, or a bout with mental illness.
Some feel most heavily not the joy of this season, but the absence of that person they can’t believe they’ll never get another Christmas with.
Some long for a spouse to wake up to on Christmas morning, or the pitter-pattering of little feet. Many couples would kill for a crying baby to make them lose the sleep that their parent friends are always complaining about on Facebook.
So, a quick word to both groups of the “most wonderful time of the year” debate:
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year People
- Enjoy it. God is a good Father and He gives good gifts.
- Be grateful…because it likely won’t be long before you find yourself facing a year where you’re on the opposite side of this spectrum. None of us escape this thing unscathed.
- Take some intentional time to love the people in your life who probably aren’t having the most wonderful Christmas this year. Call them. Invite them over for dinner. Tell them how you are praying for them. Be there for them. Make them know they are not invisible, that their pain does not go unnoticed. Don’t settle for being a good American during Christmas–let’s be the church during Christmas.
(Not) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year People
- God loves you. God loves you. God loves you. Know how I know this? Because Jesus. The cross of Christ proves once and for all that God loves you, that He is good and that He’s for your eternal good.
- Remember that the whole point of Christmas is not to have the warm fuzzies. Life is quite often not like the Hallmark Christmas movies you may watch with jealousy. The point of Christmas is that God didn’t leave us in the mess we created, but sent Jesus literally and physically into our mess so that He could make everything right in the fullness of time. Emmanuel means “God is with us,” and that is the best news imaginable this Christmas no matter what you are going through. He is treasure enough to sustain you, and He is strong enough to sustain you.
- You are not alone. God has promised to never leave or forsake you, and if you are a Christian hopefully you have a group of believers around you in a local church, because their design is to remind you that God loves you, that He’s with you. If your people don’t know that you are hurting, please let them know.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I think the above point bears repeating: church, let’s be the church during Christmas. Let’s not settle for just being good American consumers. Let’s put on display that spiritual family through Jesus is every bit as important as biological family, even on holidays.
Let’s celebrate Christmas like Jesus did–by entering into the pain of people we love and speaking the wonderful good news that He is with us, that the only One who can is putting everything broken back together again and that one day everything sad will come untrue.